SOUTH AFRICA UPDATE
Dispatches from a Darkening Corner of the Dark Continent
Witchcraft Murders and Abductions-for-Marriage
by Shaun Willcock
The purpose of these articles is to provide insightful comment on the contemporary South African and
southern African scene from a Christian, “politically-incorrect” perspective, in order to counter the
propaganda of the Reds, almost-Reds (liberals and others), religious Reds (“liberation theologians”),
and all their fellow-travellers; to encourage Christians to pray for the people of this beautiful but
desperately needy part of the world, and especially for their Christian brethren living here; and to do
what they can to assist them.
“Traditional Healers” Agree to Work to Stop People Being Killed for Magic Potions!
This is really bizarre. In February 2010, African “traditional healers” (their politically incorrect name
is “witchdoctors”) and the government of South Africa’s Gauteng province agreed to work together to
stop people being killed by witchdoctors for muthi (magic potion), and to eradicate the stigma caused by
human mutilations!1 Participants at a seminar in Pretoria agreed to root out what was termed the “evil
practice of mutilating human bodies for purposes of muthi making.”
The provincial health portfolio committee also proposed a “code of conduct” for “traditional healers”.
The Gauteng health sciences director, Mothome Pitsi, explained: “Traditional healers shall hold life dear
and not use knowledge of African traditional medicines in activities that can take a patient’s life.”
And a leader of the Congress of SA Students, Thabo Nsako, urged witchdoctors at the seminar to “stop
killing children for muthi.” “Your duty is to protect us, not to kill us,” he said. “Ancestors can never
[tell] you to kill people.”
What an outlandish, insane scenario! Provincial government leaders meeting with witchdoctors and
“agreeing” to work together to stop witchdoctors mutilating and killing people for their devilish magic
rites and potions! Instead of outlawing all such evil practices, they propose a “code of conduct” that
states witchdoctors should not take their patients’ lives!
It doesn’t matter what “codes of conduct” are signed or what “agreements” are reached – the fact
remains that some African witchdoctors mutilate people for witchcraft purposes, even while they are
still alive, in hideous and barbaric ways, and kill people, even babies and young children, to harvest
body parts from them for their witchcraft purposes. How in the world can this kind of “medical
practice” be condoned, sanctioned, even protected and encouraged, when there is a side to it that
involves itself in ritualistic mutilations and killings? But this is the South Africa of today: a South
Africa where, every year, children and adults disappear, or their bodies are found mutilated beyond
identification, because aspects of African traditional “medicine” and religion claim this has to be done
in order to heal the sick! And yet “traditional medicine” is permitted, and even encouraged, by the
And then Africa wonders why the rest of the world views Africans as barbaric, savage, and backward.
Please read on...
Witchcraft Murders on the Rise in South Africa
Not long after the meeting between witchdoctors and the government described above, a 45-year-old
man pleaded guilty in the high court to participating in the murder of a 65-year-old woman whose
tongue was to be sold for witchcraft purposes. He was sentenced to twenty years’ imprisonment,
escaping a life sentence because he confessed. The man, Madoda Mathenjwa, received R600 from his
co-perpetrator for helping commit the murder. Mathenjwa said he met the victim and her brother, and
the brother, Mcwecwe Mngomezulu, spoke to him privately and asked him if he wanted to make some
money by helping him to kill his sister. Mathenjwa agreed, and held the woman while Mngomezulu
broke her neck. He then took out a knife and removed her tongue.2
Such witchcraft killings are commonplace in Africa, including South Africa. But what the outside
world needs to understand is that these gruesome ritual killings are not committed by a Satanist fringe
group, as happens in other parts of the world – witchcraft is an ingrained part of black African religion,
believed and practised by millions of Africans!
In the town of Vryheid, in SA’s KwaZulu-Natal province, the badly mutilated bodies of two black
women were discovered in different locations on February 25 and 26, 2011. They had been ripped
open, and body parts were missing from one of them.
And in Hammarsdale, KwaZulu-Natal, a black man is facing a murder charge after the frozen body of
his girlfriend was found stashed in a freezer in his house on February 20, 2011. Body parts were also
found in a freezer in Limpopo province, and still more cases have been reported in other parts of the
Mutilated bodies just keep turning up in various parts of South Africa, as muthi killings escalate
because of the growing market for human body parts. This was even admitted by the national co-
ordinator for the Traditional Healers Organisation (THO), Phephsile Maseko.
She said that at a 1997 conference convened by the THO, victims whose ears, noses and other body
parts had been cut off shared their experiences with the conference conveners. She said victims had
been abducted, taken to remote places and mutilated alive – the belief being that their agonised screams
would make the muthi more powerful. Very few actually lived to tell of their experiences. Maseko
said, “It was surprising to discover that such horrible crimes were committed largely by the youth. We
heard that they would kill mostly the not-so-good-looking old women, too dark, skinny and with long
Of course, she tried to make a distinction between “traditional healing” and witchcraft, saying that
using human body parts is witchcraft, not genuine “healing”. But this is a distinction that most would
not be able to see, and in any case is far from being clear-cut. That there is great overlapping between
“traditional healers” and outright, murderous witchdoctors is very evident.
A 2008 documentary about body parts for sale, Unreported World, by UK-based journalist Ramita
Navai, revealed the fact that literally hundreds of people – men, women, even children – have been
murdered for body parts to be used in “traditional medicine”. Their website stated that Limpopo
province is ravaged by such murders. In one case, when a mother and son were ritually killed, the son
was found hanged with his intestines ripped out. In another case, a pregnant woman was found with her
intestines and breasts removed.
Occasionally someone actually survives the ordeal. One such survivor, a woman, who watched her
boyfriend being mutilated and murdered, managed to play dead while her lips were being cut off.
And as witchcraft abductions, mutilations and killings escalate, black communities are increasingly
taking the law into their own hands, believing (correctly, in many cases) that the police are failing them.
In December last year in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu Natal province, a woman and her husband were
burnt to death after they were accused of having abducted a young boy to use him for witchcraft. The
woman was a trainee “traditional healer” (witchdoctor). About 100 people who killed them sat next to
their badly burnt bodies until a mortuary van collected them. The people said the couple deserved to die
because they had abducted a number of people who were still missing.
The attack followed the disappearance of an eleven-year-old boy in November, whose body was later
discovered with body parts missing. The community members went to a sangoma (“traditional healer”)
who told them the trainee “traditional healer” had abducted the child. And the heathenism and
ignorance of so many black people caught up in witchcraft is such, that this man allegedly convinced
them that the body they had found was not that of a real human being, but had been created through
As another example of the sheer callousness and the cheapness of life within traditional black
communities, the brother of the murdered woman said he was shocked at the way his sister and brother-
in-law were killed, and added: “They did not have to burn them. At least they should just have killed
them.” Life is cheap where witchcraft and fear prevail. Murder is seen as justifiable in such cases, and
mob justice is seen as preferable to letting the law take its course.
Nothing but the proclamation of the true, biblical Gospel of Christ, and the reception of it into the
heart, can ever lift black Africa out of the savagery of heathenism! It is not “social upliftment”
programmes that will make the necessary changes, not even better education or medical care primarily
(important though these are), that will sound the death-knell for such devil-inspired works of darkness.
As the history of Africa has shown time and again, such practices will continue running parallel to
advances in education or medical knowledge. It is only when black Africans turn to the Lord Jesus
Christ in repentance and saving faith that they will truly forsake the pagan practices of their cultures.
This is what we must pray for, this is what we must labour for, in the strength of the Lord!
The Tribal “Cultural Practice” of Abducting Girls for Marriage
There is a cultural practice among certain black tribes in South Africa, called ukuthwala, that is
disgusting and barbaric. According to Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xalusa of SA’s ridiculous Commission for
the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities,
ukuthwala had been practised legitimately in the past, but now it was being abused. “In the past,” she
said, “the practice was used successfully as a way to marriage. A young man or woman who were
already in a relationship intending to marry, but facing obstacles that were impeding their plans to
marry, would agree to carry out the practice. The woman would be taken to the boy’s home and she
would stay with the female members of the boy’s household and there would be no sex between the two
until the lobola negotiations [the bridal price negotiations] had begun. The boy’s family would then
send a delegation to the girl’s family to inform them of her whereabouts. At this point the girl’s family
would send another delegation to check if she consented to being taken.” 4 Oh, and this was supposed to
be a good cultural practice? But bad as it was then, it is often worse now. She went on: “What we are
now seeing is something that is completely different to the culture... as many young women are now
being raped and bear children at a very young age because of ukuthwala.” She said, “Once ukuthwala
has been carried out, the girl drops out of school and bears children at a young age. You find a 16-year-
old who now has three kids because of the practice and this perpetuates the cycle of poverty.”
Recently a police task team was set up to investigate the abduction of young women to be forced into
marriages to older men. This is occurring at present, in particular, in the area of Bergville in KwaZulu-
Natal province, but also in the Eastern Cape province.
One 17-year-old girl from Bergville, Thandeka, told her story: “I was going to fetch water with my
brother’s wife when two men came from nowhere and dragged me into a car, which was parked in the
bush. I screamed for help as they ran away with me.” This occurred in broad daylight on December 26
of last year. Thandeka knew what was happening: she was being abducted to be forced into marriage
with some stranger.
Very few escape; Thandeka was one of those few. She said, “Now I live in fear of being snatched
again. Even going to school has become a risk. I don’t want to be forced into marriage...”5
Another victim was 18-year-old Bongiwe. She was abducted on June 30, 2008, as she was returning
home from school. She was rescued by her brother the following day from the so-called “husband’s”
homestead, but she was kidnapped again on July 1 and taken to a different homestead. She said, “In
that homestead I was shown a man, who is in his late 30s, and was told that he was now my husband. I
was forced to drink a bitter herb, which I was told would help me to comply. But I continued to be
rebellious and cried every day. I even refused to go to bed with the man. I escaped after a week. Now I
live with another man so that they will give up on me.”
Bongiwe’s mother said her daughter’s would-be father-in-law told her his family liked her daughter
because she was still under age at the time. “He said it makes it easier for them to raise her themselves
so that she could understand his family’s needs. When they forced me to drop charges I complied
because in this area it is easy to be killed.”6
A school principal in the Bergville area, Nhlanhla Goqo, said that about 20 girls from the school have
been abducted since 2007! And he has been spending his time trying to find them and help them. He
said he was currently trying to find a 19-year-old girl who was abducted on January 22. He said, “Her
parents do not know where she is being kept. She was first taken away on December 25. Her father and
I managed to rescue her, but... they took her again.” He added that the girls are beaten up and thrown
into a vehicle; and they often fall pregnant after forced sex.
Although the local police station had many files on the reported incidents, he said that parents are
afraid to press charges and so he was unaware of any arrests having been made.
Think of the terror such young girls and their families live in! Imagine if one of these young girls was
a true Christian, what a life of slavery she would be forced into! And anthropologists, evolutionists, and
other spiritually blind fools tell us that “people are happy as they are”, they don’t need the Gospel to be
preached to them, Christianity is an imposition they don’t want. And yet it is only wherever the Gospel
has been believed, and Christianity has spread, that women and girls have been lifted above being mere
chattels for men, and have been given a dignity their own false religions never granted them.
This “traditional cultural practice” just shows up, all too clearly, the lie that all cultural practices are
equal. Some are barbaric, cruel, nothing but wicked. But in today’s “multicultural” world, where
everything practised under the sun is supposed to be equally valid, equally acceptable, any criticism of
such things is immediately condemned as “intolerant” and “racist”. A practice like ukuthwala (among
many others) is precisely why South Africa will never be a melting pot like America once was.
Minorities who emigrated to America used to assimilate with the majority, because they viewed that
culture as worthy of assimilating into (today it’s different, and minorities now cling to their old ways of
life, causing huge conflict in America). But in South Africa, never will English, Afrikaans or Indian
South Africans be able to merge their cultures with that of black South Africans. They view so many
aspects of black African culture as barbaric, cruel, degrading, savage...and rightly so. It’s not PC to say
it, of course, but such things are barbaric, cruel, degrading and savage. In the past, white missionaries
preached the Gospel to black people and taught them clearly that aspects of their cultures had to be
abandoned because they were heathen, whether it was (in some places) female genital mutilation,
nakedness, cannibalism, blood feuds, to name just a few. Today, however, anthropology has replaced
Christian theology, and ascendant black nationalism and consequent political power in Africa has seen
the Gospel ridiculed, branded a “white man’s religion” unsuitable for blacks. And yet everywhere one
turns in Africa, one sees savagery, cruelty, the resurgence of witchcraft, ritual murders, and cruel and
humiliating “cultural” practices. How tragic. How believers need to pray that once again the true,
biblical Gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ the Lord alone will once again be
heard across Africa!
RELATED ARTICLES BY SHAUN WILLCOCK (available on our website):
Witchcraft, Bestiality, Cannibalism: Horrifying Abominations Being Committed in South Africa
Snippets from South Africa: March 2007
Witchcraft and Crime in South Africa
Witchcraft and Crime in South Africa: the Horror Continues
Snippets from South Africa: February 2010
Shaun Willcock is a minister of the Gospel. He runs Bible Based Ministries. For other articles (which
may be downloaded and printed), as well as details about his books, audio messages, pamphlets, etc.,
please visit the Bible Based Ministries website; or write to the address below. If you would like to be
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1.Weekend Witness, February 20, 2010.
2.The Witness, March 26, 2010.
3.The Witness, February 5, 2011.
4.The Witness, February 25, 2011.
5.The Witness, February 3, 2011.
6.The Witness, February 3, 2011.